Social media apps and networking websites are exploding in the world of social media. Just last year, Apple announced that its Apple iOS App Store reached a landmark 40 billion downloads and 775,000 apps for its platform.[1]  Companies are taking advantage of this rise of social media apps and many of them use more than one social media site to connect with users and to advertise their services. The social media landscape is rapidly changing, and the increased time and costs in adapting to these changes has incentivized companies to manage and control their social media activity.

Third party organizational apps are beginning to emerge that bring all of a company’s social media accounts together in one place. These apps are intended to assist corporations in managing their social media activity by making it quicker and more effective to use more than one site. For example, HootSuite is a social media app that is beginning to gain popularity. With HootSuite, all of a company’s social media accounts can be accessed in one place and managed with one simple login.[2]  Companies can access comments, messages, mentions, tweets, likes, pins, posts and Instagram messages in one convenient location rather than managing separate accounts.

Companies are not only faced with a rapid growth in social media networking sites, but the legal landscape is also rapidly changing. It is important for companies to consider the need to implement social media strategies that meet regulatory compliance across all facets of the organization. In addition, companies are faced with other legal implications of using social media, including in the areas of copyright, trade-mark, defamation and privacy law. In these circumstances, companies may wish to consider investing in social media policies designed to navigate the complexities of the legal system. Social media policies may address a number of issues including:

  • Procedures for using copyrighted material in company posts, blogs and other commentary
  • Procedures for handling complaints of copyright infringement
  • Procedures for using trade-marks of other users in company posts, blogs and other commentary
  • Procedures for handling complaints of trade-mark infringement
  • Procedures to avoid making comments or endorsing other users’ comments that could be considered defamatory
  • Procedures to govern the use and disclosure of personal information in social media, including safeguards to ensure compliance with local and federal privacy legislation
  • Procedures governing the use of electronic commercial messaging and SPAM
  • Procedures governing employee misconduct in the use of social media that could expose the corporation to liability

In order to navigate the world of social media apps, companies need to remain adaptive in their strategies and policies. Companies may wish to seek guidance as to how to maximize their exposure on social media, how to minimize their costs of managing social media, and how to comply with all applicable laws governing the use of social media in all relevant jurisdictions in which companies operate because many laws regarding social media vary by jurisdiction. And the laws and legal issues regarding social media are continuing to evolve, so it remains important to be aware of continuing developments in this arena.